According to experts it will be a while before victims of the Garuda air crash can be identified. This isn't new for Indonesia with victims of theTsunami still listed as missing because the bodies couldn't be properly identified.
In February this year, Monash University, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine along with the governments of Australia, Singapore and Indonesia started to develop a program to deal with disaster victims identification. This is a specific plan to train the Indonesian emergency services and communities.
Senior Lecturer of the Monash Indonesian Studies Program, Basoeki Koesasi, who is helping to establish the program, was in Aceh after the tsunami and saw the devastation. He knows what it means to families to be able to claim and bury their dead.
Indonesia is a country where natural disasters occur frequently so working out a way to properly identify bodies quickly is vital. Professor Stephen Gardner, Director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and Head of Monash University's Department of Forensic Medicine, has also played a key role in establishing this training.
The Indonesians expertise and practices have been basic but now procedures, such as pathology testing, taking photographs of victims, identifying their location, personal markings, labelling belongings, are being taught to professionals and community leaders. The idea is to have a system in place before a disaster happens to start the identification process as soon as possible. As we've seen this week, the region will need the program all to often.